A few of the big insurance companies (Progressive, we're looking at you) have been experimenting with high-tech on-board devices to monitor their customer's driving habits for a few years now. But telematics have finally entered the picture, allowing on-the-fly uploading of driver information, vs the previous systems which required drivers to manually upload their data. A majority of drivers who opt-in will save money; about $270 annually per car, according to one think tank. The downside for us hoons is that any braking or speeding deemed "excessive" will increase your payments. Oh, and don't put too many miles on your car, because that'll increase your rates too. So, how do the new systems differ from the old?
The details differ from company to company, but they all rely on modern on-board diagnostic systems. Progressive's original "TripSense" is plugged into you car's diagnostic port, every six months being removed to have the info uploaded and sent to the company. The new system, called "MyRate," uses a telematic device that wirelessly transmits the driver data over a cellphone network.
GMAC's program utilizes a car's existing OnStar system...which just happens to have GPS capabilites. They insist that GPS tracking is not used to monitor your every move — just your mileage. You know, because checking the odometer just isn't good enough. GMAC does admit "There is an opportunity to get other information, and as we do we will be able to correlate risk to actual driving behavior itself rather than more predictive factors." Of course, you'd still have to pay for the annual OnStar subscription, so you'll have to judge whether the insurance savings makes the OnStar spam you'll get each month worthwhile.